The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 8, 2012

Laurels and barbs


The Tribune-Democrat

— Laurel: More deserving honors were bestowed Monday on the late Congressman John Murtha. The multidisciplinary cancer treatment program centered in the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C., was dedicated as the John P. Murtha Cancer Center. “I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Murtha when he was working with the Defense Department to get some of these programs (for armed services personnel and their families) put in place,” Col. Craig Shriver said. “He saved many lives through the funding he provided.”

Barb: Despite being charged in separate criminal cases of drunken driving and assaulting his wife, state Rep. Joe Brennan of Lehigh County will continue to receive a hefty paycheck and generous benefits compliments of taxpayers. To his credit, Brennan abandoned a re-election bid this past summer, but he will continue to work at the Capitol as a research analyst with the House Democratic caucus. He takes a $10,000 cut from his $82,000 legislative salary. Last year, Brennan was arrested for a DUI after his blood-alcohol level was found to be nearly four times the legal limit. He was accepted into a program for nonviolent, first-time offenders. In October, he was accused of punching and choking his wife before driving away intoxicated. Those charges are pending. Poor choices all around.

Barb: Although we’re in a holiday mood, we offer a second thumbs down for our state legislators. Rep. Garth Everett of Lycoming County is requesting fellow House Republicans pitch in with donations for his predecessor, Brett Feese, who is in jail. Everett said Feese has been hit hard by legal fees and fines and the loss of income. We believe a lump of coal would be more in order. A lengthy investigation into the misuse of public money and government employees for campaign purposes has sent to jail several high-profile former members of the state House, including Feese.

Laurel: We know that our region has medical facilities second to none. Therefore, we’re not surprised when one of them receives recognition from national organizations. This week, we reported that the surgical residency program at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has achieved the highest recognition, a five-year accreditation, from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. “It is very unusual for a community-based surgical residency program to receive anything more than a three-year accreditation,” Dr. Russell Dumire, Memorial’s program director, said. Memorial is also one of only 54 level-one accreditation educational institutes worldwide recognized by the American College of Surgeons, Dumire said. Congratulations.

Laurel: Happy birthday, Goodwill. The nonprofit Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley Inc. has been a key player in our region for the past 50 years. Its mission is to provide job training and employment support services to individuals with disadvantages and disabilities, the unemployed and underemployed, dislocated workers, youth and other job seekers. Headquartered in the Hornerstown section of Johnstown, Goodwill operates 10 retail stores in a six-county area, with 65 percent of sales revenue being used to fund education, career services and community programs. Phyllis Bandstra has been the longtime president and CEO.

Barb: Talk about poor choices. Four In Brief items appearing in our Monday edition reflected just that. The cases, involving alcohol, were: A 19-year-old woman who police said was “very intoxicated” was injured in an eight- or nine-foot fall from a fraternity house window in State College; a Greensburg woman was charged with punching, kicking and stabbing an acquaintance after she became angry that he tried to leave with their last beer; a Portage couple was charged with assault after the man allegedly pulled a handgun on the woman after she allegedly had cut him and threw a beer mug at his face; and an Indiana man allegedly left a bar without paying his tab, was picked up and taken to the borough police station, where, polie said, he urinated on the floor. Yikes.

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